Humanities
Locke Argument on The Right for A Man to Own Private Property Essay

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I’m studying for my Philosophy class and need an explanation.


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  1. In Chapter five, Locke presents an argument for man’s natural right to private property. What is that argument? What does he conclude that such a right consists in? What is the end, origin and extent of that right for man originally, and for man as he is presently situated? Is it natural to all men? Is it limited in scope? Has the right changed over time? What occasioned that change, if it did in fact alter? Does man have a right to unlimited acquisition of private property according to Locke?

2. For Locke, all power that one man has over another man is a limited power. Why is such power always limited? He further argues in the case of such particular modes of such a power that the limits, origin and ends of the power is different, why? In the case of parental power, spousal power, and political power, why is each of these powers limited in its own peculiar manner? Present how he argues that political power, his principal concern, is limited. Present how and why the other forms of power over an other is limited in their own manner.


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Second Treatise of Government John Locke Copyright © Jonathan Bennett 2017. All rights reserved [Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small ·dots· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as though it were part of the original text. Occasional •bullets, and also indenting of passages that are not quotations, are meant as aids to grasping the structure of a sentence or a thought. Every four-point ellipsis . . . . indicates the omission of a brief passage that seems to present more difficulty than it is worth.—-The division into numbered sections is Locke’s. First launched: January 2005 Last amended: March 2008 Contents Preface 1 Chapter 1 2 Chapter 2: The state of nature 3 Chapter 3: The state of war 7 Chapter 4: Slavery 9 Chapter 5: Property 10 Chapter 6: Paternal power 19 Chapter 7: Political or Civil Society 26 Second Treatise John Locke Chapter 8: The beginning of political societies 32 Chapter 9: The purposes of political society and government 40 Chapter 10: The forms of a commonwealth 42 Chapter 11: The extent of the legislative power 43 Chapter 12: The legislative, executive, and federative powers of the commonwealth 46 Chapter 13: The subordination of the powers of the commonwealth 48 Chapter 14: Prerogative 53 Chapter 15: Paternal, political, and despotic power, considered together 56 Chapter 16: Conquest 58 Chapter 17: Usurpation 65 Chapter 18: Tyranny 65 Chapter 19: The dissolution of government 70 Locke on children 80 Second Treatise John Locke Preface Preface to the two Treatises Reader, you have here the beginning and the end of a ·two-part· treatise about government. It isn’t worthwhile to go into what happened to the pages that should have come in between (they were more than half the work). [The missing up in elegant language. If you take the trouble to tackle the parts of Sir Robert’s discourses that are not dealt with here, stripping off the flourish of dubious expressions and trying to turn his words into direct, positive, intelligible propositions, and if you then compare these propositions with one another, you will soon be satisfied that there was never so much glib nonsense put together in fine-sounding English. If you don’t think it worthwhile to look through all his work, just try the part where he discusses usurpation, and see whether all your skill is enough to make Sir Robert intelligible and consistent with himself and with common sense. I wouldn’t speak so plainly of a gentleman who is no longer in a position to answer, if it weren’t that in recent years preachers have been espousing his doctrine and making it the current orthodoxy of our times. . . . I wouldn’t have written against Sir Robert, labouring to show his mistakes, inconsistencies, and lack of the biblical proofs that he boasts of having as his only foundation, if there weren’t men among us who, by praising his books and accepting his doctrine, clear me of the charge of writing only against a dead adversary. They have been so zealous about this that if I have done him any wrong I can’t hope they will show me any mercy. I wish that where they have done wrong to the truth and to the public, they would •be as ready to correct it ·as I am to admit errors proved against me·, and that they •would give due weight to the thought that the greatest harm one can do to the monarch and the people is to spread wrong notions about government. If they did, it might for ever put an end to our having reason to complain of thunderings from the pulpit! If anyone who is really concerned about truth tries to refute my hypothesis, I promise him either to admit any mistake he fairly convicts pages, that were to have been included in the Second Treatise, i.e. the second part of the two-part treatise, were simply lost. They contained an extended attack on Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, a defence of the divine right of kings, published in 1680 (Filmer had died in 1653). The lost pages presumably overlapped the attack on the same target that filled Locke’s First Treatise of Government and also occupy a good deal of space in the Second.] These surviving pages, I hope, are sufficient •to establish the throne of our great restorer, our present King William; •to justify his title ·to the throne· on the basis of the consent of the people, which is the only lawful basis for government, and which he possesses more fully and clearly than any other ruler in the Christian world; and to •justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural rights, and their resolve to preserve them, saved this nation when it was on the brink of slavery and ruin ·under King James II·. If these pages are as convincing as I flatter myself that they are, the missing pages will be no great loss, and my reader can be satisfied without them. ·I certainly hope so, because· I don’t expect to have either the time of the inclination to take all that trouble again, filling up the gap in my answer by again tracking Sir Robert ·Filmer· through all the windings and obscurities of his amazing system. The king and the nation as a whole have since so thoroughly refuted his hypothesis that I don’t think anyone ever again will be •bold enough to speak up against our common safety, and be an advocate for slavery, or •weak enough to be deceived by contradictions dressed 1 Second Treatise John Locke Chapter 1 as answering my book. •That I shan’t let scolding pass as argument. . . . me of or to answer his difficulties. But he must remember two things: •That picking holes in my discourse—objecting to this turn of phrase or that little incident—is not the same Chapter 1 1. In my First Treatise of Government I showed these four things: (1) That Adam did not have, whether by natural right as a father or through a •positive gift from God, any such authority over his children or over the world as has been claimed. (2) That if even he had, his heirs would not have the same right. (3) That if the right were to be passed on to his heirs, it would be indeterminate who were his heirs, because there is no law of nature or •positive law of God that settles this question in every possible case; so it wouldn’t be determinate who inherited the right and thus was entitled to rule. (4) Even if all that had been ·theoretically· determined, ·it would be useless in practice·: the knowledge of the chain of heirs running back to Adam has been utterly lost, so that nobody in all the races of mankind and families of the world would have the slightest claim to have that ·supposed· right of inheritance. All these premises having, as I think, been clearly established, no rulers now on earth can derive the faintest shadow of authority from the supposed source of all ·human political· power, Adam’s private dominion and paternal rule. So if you don’t want to •give reason to think that all government in the world is the product purely of force and violence, and men live together only by the same rules as the lower animals, where strength settles every issue, and so •lay a foundation for perpetual disorder and mischief, riots, sedition and rebellion (things that the followers of that ·‘force and violence’· hypothesis so loudly cry out against), you will have to find another account of the beginnings of government, another source for political power, and another way of settling who the people are who ·ought to· have it—other, that is, than what Sir Robert Filmer has taught us. [The word •‘positive’, used in section 1 and again in 13 and elsewhere, is a technical term. A positive law is one that some legislator imposes; it comes from the decision of some law-making authority. The contrast is with a natural law, which isn’t •laid down by anyone but simply •arises out of the natures of things. So a positive gift from God would be simply a gift as ordinarily understood; Locke throws in ‘positive’, presumably, because even a natural right that Adam had would in a sense be a gift from God, because God gave Adam his nature; but it wouldn’t be a positive gift, arising from an explicit gift-giving action on God’s part. Similarly with the notion of a positive law of God’s.]. 2. For this purpose, I think it may be worthwhile to state what I think political power is; so that the power of a •government official over a subject can be distinguished from that of a •father over his children, a •master over his servant, a •husband over his wife, and a •lord over his slave. Because it sometimes happens that one man has all these 2 Second Treatise John Locke different powers, we can get clearer about how the powers differ by looking at the different relationships in which the man stands: as ruler of a commonwealth, father of a family, and captain of a galley. 3. So: I take political power to be a right to •make 2: The state of nature laws—with the death penalty and consequently all lesser penalties—for regulating and preserving property, and to •employ the force of the community in enforcing such laws and defending the commonwealth from external attack; all this being only for the public good. Chapter 2: The state of nature 4. To understand political power correctly and derive it from its proper source, we must consider what state all men are naturally in. In this state men are perfectly free to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and themselves, in any way they like, without asking anyone’s permission—subject only to limits set by the law of nature. Here are his words: A similar natural inducement has led men to realize that they have as much duty to love others as to love themselves. Things that are equal must be measured by a single standard; so if I inevitably want to receive some good—indeed as much good from every man as any man can want for himself—how could I expect to have any part of my desire satisfied if I am not careful to satisfy the similar desires that other men, being all of the same nature, are bound to have? To offer them anything inconsistent with their desire will be to grieve them as much as ·it would grieve· me; so that if I do harm I must expect to suffer, because there is no reason why others should show more love to me than I have shown to them. Thus, my desire to be loved as much as possible by my natural equals gives me a natural duty to act towards them with the same love. Everyone knows the rules and canons natural reason has laid down for the guidance of our lives on the basis of this relation of equality between ourselves and those who are like us. It is also a state of equality, in which no-one has more power and authority than anyone else; because it is simply obvious that creatures of the same species and status, all born to all the same advantages of nature and to the use of the same abilities, should also be equal ·in other ways·, with no-one being subjected to or subordinate to anyone else, unless ·God·, the lord and master of them all, were to declare clearly and explicitly his wish that some one person be raised above the others and given an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty 5. The judicious ·Richard· Hooker regards this natural equality of men as so obvious and unquestionable that he bases on it men’s •obligation to love one another, on which he builds their •duties towards each other, from which ·in turn· he derives the great •maxims of justice and charity. 3 Second Treatise John Locke 6. But though this is a state of •liberty, it isn’t a state of •licence ·in which there are no constraints on how people behave·. A man in that state is absolutely free to dispose of himself or his possessions, but he isn’t at liberty to destroy himself, or even to destroy any created thing in his possession unless its destruction is required for some nobler purpose. The state of nature is governed by a law that creates obligations for everyone. And reason, which is that law, teaches anyone who takes the trouble to consult it, that because we are all equal and independent, no-one ought to harm anyone else in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. This is because •we are all the work of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker; •we are all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order to do his business; •we are all the property of him who made us, and he made us to last as long as he chooses, not as long as we choose; •we have the same abilities, and share in one common nature, so there can’t be any rank-ordering that would authorize some of us to destroy others, as if we were made to be used by one another, as the lower kinds of creatures are made to be used by us. Everyone is obliged to preserve himself and not opt out of life willfully, so for the same reason everyone ought, when his own survival isn’t at stake, to do as much as he can to preserve the rest of mankind; and except when it’s a matter of punishing an offender, no-one may take away or damage anything that contributes to the preservation of someone else’s life, liberty, health, limb, or goods. 2: The state of nature of all mankind may be obeyed, the enforcement of that law of nature (in the state of nature) is in every man’s hands, so that everyone has a right to punish law-breakers as severely as is needed to hinder the violation of the law. For the law of nature, like every law concerning men in this world, would be futile if no-one had power to enforce it and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. And in the state of nature if anyone may punish someone for something bad that he has done, then everyone may do so. . . . 8. That is how in a state of nature one man comes to have a ·legitimate· power over another. It isn’t an unconditional power, allowing him to use a captured criminal according to the hot frenzy or unbridled extremes of his own will; but only a power to punish him so far as calm reason and conscience say is proportionate to his crime, namely as much punishment as may serve for •reparation and •restraint—for •those two are the only reasons why one man may lawfully harm another, which is what we call ‘punishment’. By breaking the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by some rule other than that of reason and common fairness (which is the standard that God has set for the actions of men, for their mutual security); and so he becomes dangerous to mankind because he has disregarded and broken the tie that is meant to secure them from injury and violence. This is an offence against the whole ·human· species, and against the peace and safety that the law of nature provides for the species. Now, every man, by the right he has to preserve mankind in general, may restrain and if necessary destroy things that are noxious to mankind; and so he can do to anyone who has transgressed that law as much harm as may make him repent having done it, and thereby deter him—and by his example deter others—from doing the same. So for this reason every man has a right to enforce the law of nature and punish offenders. 7. So that •all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another, and so that •the law of nature that aims at the peace and preservation 4 Second Treatise John Locke 9. No doubt this will seem a very strange doctrine to some people; but before they condemn it, I challenge them to explain what right any king or state has to put to death or ·otherwise· punish a foreigner for a crime he commits in their country. The right is certainly not based on their laws, through any permission they get from the announced will of the legislature; for such announcements don’t get through to a foreigner: they aren’t addressed to him, and even if they were, he isn’t obliged to listen. . . . Those who have the supreme power of making laws in England, France or Holland are to an Indian merely like the rest of the world, men without authority. So if the law of nature didn’t give every man a power to punish offences against it as he soberly judges the case to require, I don’t see how the judiciary of any community can punish someone from another country; because they can’t have any more power over him than every man can naturally have over another. 2: The state of nature injured party has to get reparation. Now, a magistrate, who by being magistrate has the common right of punishing put into his hands, can by his own authority (i) cancel the punishment of a criminal offence in a case where the public good doesn’t demand that the law be enforced; but he can’t (ii) cancel the satisfaction due to any private man for the damage he has received. The only one who can do that is the person who has been harmed. The injured party has the power of taking for himself the goods or service of the offender, by right of •self-preservation; and everyone has a power to punish the crime to prevent its being committed again, by the right he has of preserving •all mankind, and doing everything reasonable that he can to that end. And so it is that in the state of nature everyone has a power to kill a murderer, both •to deter others from this crime that no reparation can make up for, by the example of the punishment that everyone inflicts for it, and also •to secure men from future crimes by this criminal; the murderer has renounced reason, the common rule and standard God has given to mankind, and by the unjust violence and slaughter he has committed on one person he has declared war against all mankind, so that he can be destroyed as though he were a lion or a tiger. . . . This is the basis for the great law of nature, Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Cain was so fully convinced that everyone had a right to destroy such a criminal that after murdering his brother he cried out ‘Anyone who finds me will slay me’—so plainly was this law written in the hearts of all mankind. 10. As well as •the crime that consists in violating the law and departing from the right rule of reason—crime through which man becomes so degenerate that he declares that he is deserting the principles of human nature and becoming vermin—there is often •transgression through which someone does harm to someone else. In the latter case, the person who has been harmed has, in addition to the general right of punishment that he shares with everyone else, a particular right to seek reparation from the person who harmed him; and anyone else who thinks this just may also join with the injured party and help him to recover from the offender such damages as may make satisfaction for the harm he has suffered. 12. For the same reason a man in the state of nature may punish lesser breaches of the law of nature. ‘By death?’ you may ask. I answer that each offence may be punished severely enough to make it a bad bargain for the offender, to give him reason to repent, and to terrify others from offending in the same way. Every offence that can be •committed in 11. So there are two distinct rights: (i) the right that everyone has, to punish the criminal so as to restrain him and prevent such offences in future; (ii) the right that an 5 Second Treatise John Locke the state of nature may also be •punished in the state of nature—and punished in the same way (as far as possible) as it would be in a commonwealth. I don’t want to go into the details of the law of nature or of its punitive measures, ·but I will say this much·:- It is certain that there is a •law of nature, which is as intelligible and plain to a reasonable person who studies it as are the •positive laws of commonwealths. [See the explanation of ‘positive’ after section 1.] It may even be plainer—as much plainer as •reason i ...
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Final Answer

Attached.

Running head: PRIVATE PROPERTY

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Private Property
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation

PRIVATE PROPERTY

2

Locke's argument on the right for a man to own private property has a broader meaning.
Accordingly, in the presentation of the case, Locke argues that man should be provided the
opportunity to have authority over the earthly possessions (Bennett, 2017). The author noted that
very material present on the surface of the earth should be under the control of man. As such, the
man required absolute control over the materials to facilitate daily life operations. Through the
utilization of labor and other resources. The author notes that man would have maximum control
over natural resources. To support the argument, the author describes the nature of the property.
He formulates that the natural property is presented to the man from God. As such, all men being
equal and free have the right to exploit the resources for beneficial purposes.
Similarly, the individuals possess equal rights concerning the ability to acquire and
utilize the resources. Locke, however, is quick to point out the limitations concerning the liberal
theory, the author states that while all men have the right to access the natural resources, none
has the absolute authority over the property granted by nature. As such, the model formulates
that the power given to man has limitations. The author argues that the utilization of the
resources should take into account the needs of others. Further, according to Locke, the law
limits how man controls the property. As a result, the regulations determine the nature of
reasoning that man implements in the exploitation of the resources must be influenced by reason.
Additionally, the law also guides the actions of man concerning the respect to others. He
argues that due to equality, man should put into consideration morality in the process of
acquiring private p...

Kishnewt2017 (32460)
New York University

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